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Ask Not What You Can Do for the Kennedy School


By Rutger Fury


I was looking for a place to sleep when I happened to notice that the lights were on in the home of my close personal friend, Jeffrey J. Wise. Thinking to ask to crash on his rug, I shinnied up the drainpipe, forced the window lock, and climbed into his bedroom. But, alas, he was not there. What I did find, however, was much more intriguing.

While looking around for hints of my host's whereabouts, I found a bundle of papers locked in a metal box under the floorboards. The contents of these papers were so outrageous, so shocking, and so lurid that I could not put them down--except to urinate and run to Elsie's for a sandwich.

Rather than provide my own interpretation, I will let the documents speak for themselves.

To. Department of Petty Assistants Kennedy School of Government

Dear Ms. Petty Assistant:

How are you? I am fine. Well, not really. You see, Ms. Assistant, I am a senior at Harvard and it has recently come to my attention that my grade point average is slightly deficient vis-a-vis getting a diploma. As you can probably imagine, this is causing me a great deal of distress.

Some of my friends have told me that there are advisor-type people I can talk to about my problems here at Harvard, Ms. Assistant, but frankly if that means paying a bribe I'm afraid I just don't have a whole heap of moola. So I'm writing to different Harvard graduate schools to see if I can't get a better price for a Harvard affiliation from one of them.

How does $12 sound? I know it won't get me a building with my name on it or anything, but all I really need is a piece of paper to make everything official.

Hoping to hear from you soon, Jeffrey J. Wise

To: Jeffrey J. Wise

Harvard College

Dear Mr. Wise,

With regards to your letter of x/xx/xx, we would require further information regarding your situation at present. For example: Who the hell do you think you are? And: who do you think you're dealing with? Twelve dollars?

You'll have to do better than that, Mr. Wise.


Petty Assistant

To: Dean of the Kennedy School

Harvard University

Dear Dean,

Someone passing herself off as your assistant seems to have stolen your letterhead.

Let's not beat around the bush, Dean. I've got the cash, you've got the leverage. $20 U.S. says I deserve a Kennedy School affiliation. And it that ain't enough, I'm willing to throw in volunteer time--organizing teas, attending cocktail parties. Why? Because I'm a desperate man. Because I'm a crazy man. Don't mess with me.

Thanking you in advance,

Jeffrey J. Wise

P.S. I've got a gun.

To: Mr. Jeffrey J. Wise

Harvard College

Dear Mr. Wise,

I read your note of x/xx/xx with a great deal of interest. I appreciate the fact that you are under a great deal of stress, and that you are armed. I also believe that the name of no organization, even that of the Kennedy School of Government, is so august that it cannot be sold. Therefore, upon receipt of your $20, I will forward a copy of your Kennedy School papers.

With affection,

Dean of the Kennedy School.

P.S. By the way, this afternoon a lovely couple, both filthy rich, visited my office. They asked for the same thing as you but offered $499,980 more. Now that I think about it, I might give your affiliation to them.

To: the Dean

Dear Dean,

Enclosed is $35--keep the extra and buy yourself a hat. As for those rich folks, let me tell you this: are they willing to arrange teas? I bet not.

At this point the correspondence breaks off. Under a pile of dirty laundry in Wise's room I also found a smoking revolver with fingerprints indicating it had been fired by a studious Harvard senior. On the wall, a message was scrawled in lipstick (in violation of dormitory law, by the way): "Stop me before I violate grad school ethics". Under the words, tell-tale scratch marks.

To my mind, which is not unlike that of a trained detective, these clues can only mean one thing: scandal. The writing on the wall was obviously a red herring; as every Encyclopedia Brown knows, there is no such thing as "grad school ethics." Thus the sequence of events must have been as follows.

One day, Jeffrey Wise was trying to tunnel out of his dorm room with his fingernails, while at the same time firing off his hand gun at random. The noise attracts a curious Kennnedy School dean, who happens to be followed by two rich Texans trying to gain prestige by disbursing cash. The four confront one another and, after a heated argument, strike a deal to set up a chain of "Harvard Grad School Diploma Shacks--instant while-u-wait" services in shopping malls throughout the country. Then they go off to have lunch. After they leave, a studious Harvard senior wanders in and fires off the pistol once more.

Shocking. And what's worse, Wise didn't cut me in on the action.

Rutger Fury, former editor of "Essays that Failed," is a former friend of that weasel, Jeffrey J. Wise.

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